Posts : 7057
Be a part of date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape City South Africa
Exploring the cave on the Southern Slopes of Isandlwana a couple of weeks in the past I scuffed a number of the soil away and noticed what appeared like an previous piece of canvas. Rigorously digging round it I discovered it was an previous aspect pack, as soon as white however now discoloured and rotting. Later again on the lodge I rigorously opened the duvet, surprisingly simply actually. Inside I discovered a set of bits and items of paper. Previous ammunition wrappers in the primary, an previous letter and a replica of some lengthy pale posting order. I sat right down to learn the pale pencil writing on the backs and within the margins and got here throughout this superb story. Apt for todays event.
The Last Man Alive.
I’m going to die quickly, it’s solely a matter of time that the Zulu climb as much as the cave and spot me. When the lads charged downhill screaming like banshees I assumed I might be intelligent and sneak into this little cave. I didn’t reckon on the heathens under systematically working their method spherical all my lifeless comrades and associates gutting and robbing them. There’s a fare variety of the lads our bodies simply outdoors the cave the place we made our stand, so they are going to be picked clear like the remaining after which I will probably be found.
Perhaps I’ll have sufficient time to set down the day and the occasions that result in me being on this predicament.
Once we awoke this morning it was to seek out the two/24th, besides Mr Pope’s lot, all gone out of the camp. Looks like the Common obtained a letter within the early hours of the morning and left to go and assist Mr Dartnell. Colonel Pullein was left in cost so after getting a fast splash and a tidy up we began to line up for breakfast however bugger me I had no sooner received to the serving bench when the stand to was sounded and we needed to run and seize the boondocks then onto parade, simply in entrance of the two/24th strains.
There have been Zulus noticed on the hills to the left of camp, after some time tons and plenty of them. We moved out in corporations to the left of the camp to attend and see. Humorous they weren’t focused on hiding in any respect, hundreds of them streamed throughout the ridge proper in entrance of us going from the east.
No one appeared apprehensive although, apart from my mate subsequent to me, moaned like hell he did trigger he had missed breakfast. After some time although we have been fallen out and advised to go and eat. On the best way again I noticed numerous mounted coloured males had arrived and that Colonel of Engineers with them.
We have been advised to face down across the tent space however maintain our package on. Wasn’t to lengthy and we noticed the mounted males cut up up into a number of teams, two went up the hill to our left and appeared to maneuver of in several instructions. Wonderful sensible bunch of lads they have been an all.
The Engineer Colonel with the humorous arm and the large pair of moustaches then rode off to the East with the remainder of his males. Tagging alongside behind was a bunch of the Native lads guarding what appeared like an artillery firm. Humorous that, trigger that they had no probability of catching up. However quickly we noticed them veer of to the left behind the sharp formed hill in entrance of us.
We began to listen to a popping noise, couldn’t inform the place it was from, appeared to bounce across the hills. Then a horseman got here galloping into the camp from the hills, and a pair extra from the plain. I used to be shut sufficient to listen to so I listened in like. The officer from the plain needed Colonel Pullein to start out packing up the camp, however the different one, assume his identify was Shepstone or such like, stated that the entire Zulu military was coming and we had higher look sharp.
The bugle sounded and we shaped up. A few the businesses doubled up onto the ridge in entrance of us. We took station subsequent to the top of the mountain on the flat. Decrease down I noticed the Weapons with a few of our troops round them and simply in entrance the Native lads.
Issues began to warmth up on the hills with plenty of firing and horsemen galloping down the slope. Then brushing previous me went that officer of transport dashing up the hill.
Weren’t lengthy earlier than he was coming again down once more pell mell with all of the troops operating for his or her lives. Captain Younghusband referred to as us to consideration and we marched ahead to cowl the retreat. We marched in the direction of the underside of the slope, fairly damned shortly, fare puffed I used to be. We loaded up and waited, calming the trembles, then over the hill got here the Zulus. Did we give it to them, they have been minimize aside in seconds and ran again over the ridge squealing and squawking. The opposite two corporations from the hill now lined as much as our proper and because the Zulu got here streaming again in the direction of us we opened hearth in volleys, nothing might have stood as much as that fireplace, there have been bits of leg and physique flying throughout. Numerous the horsemen had received into the large ditch in entrance and have been blasting away wily nilly. No concept of management these lads. Couple of the bandsmen have been dispensing ammunition and never earlier than time, I grabbed a few packets and stuffed them in my jacket, the bullets tended to bounce out of the ball bag. However by ‘ell, fire as we did, the Zulus just got more and more; we started to retire back towards the tents, through the native areas. I glanced to my right to check on the other companies and was pretty narked to see the Natives legging it away. That’s it I assumed now the struggle begins.
The bugle sounded the retreat, not earlier than bloody time says I. Mr Hodgson screaming at us to shut up; we retreated by line throughout the underside of the mountain until we obtained to the 2nd Battalion provide wagons. A number of of us have been informed of to interrupt open some ammo bins, I seemed round to ensure no Quartermaster was watching me earlier than giving the field the again of my heel, breaking open the slider. The ammo was eagerly pulled from my arms. Then as I stood up I fare messed my trousers, we have been surrounded by hundreds of black faces, contorted like with ‘ate lots of ‘ate. The Captain was a brave man; he stood tall and had us move back in a sort of square, slowly moving up the slope all the time firing. Half way up we got the order to fix bayonets, me hands were shivering so much I like to dropped it.
Eventually we could get no higher, our backs were to the rocks, the Zulu stayed a few yards in front of us, they didn’t just like the bayonet. We taunted them, “Come on then ye bastards, come and get it, what you waiting for”.
They howled and threw spears and rocks at us, however they wouldn’t strategy the chilly metal. Our hearth began to slacken, my pouch was empty. Simply the few rounds left tucked in my jacket. I risked a glance down the hill, a sea of black with three or 4 stands like ours. However no signal of the Basic in any respect. The Captain strode behind us scorning the makes an attempt of the Zulu to get him. “Men”, he shouted, “do we stay here and die like animals or do we show them how British soldiers can fight.” The lads howled their response. I appeared down; it was an extended approach to that group preventing of the flats by the wagons. Bugger all probability of getting there I assumed. Couple of my mates checked out me and I might see that they had the identical thought as I. “CHARGE” was the bellow, each man moved, some backward alongside the ridge, I in the direction of the small opening behind me. However the remaining, ah these magnificent lads, they went down the hill after the Captain and the Lts straight into the guts of the Zulu.
It was epic that struggle, bloody ‘eroic’ the Zulus ran like buggery, hell I assumed their going to do it? However then the Zulu closed round these mighty males it was throughout in minutes, I might see the stabbing spears getting into and one huge sod with a stick that add a terrific ball on the top, that accounted for a couple of of the lads it did. However the Captain, properly, took rather a lot to deliver him down it did. That sword was a factor of magnificence flashing and slashing. The Zulu have been feared of it until one obtained him within the again. Then it was executed, however you can see the respect that they had for ‘im.
I had stood gaping on the motion, now a leap as much as the opening and over the rock and I used to be within the cave, small little factor it’s concerning the measurement of a coffin. “Ah well” beggars can’t be chooses I assumed. I settled down to attend, hopefully for rescue.
After a short time the sounds of battle died down and I risked a glance over the rocks. The killing was nonetheless happening. I noticed a younger boy, should have been from the band, standing on a wagon waving a membership of types until a Zulu speared him. He fell off the wagon, catching his legs and simply hanging there. A passing Zulu speared him once more after which to my horror ripped him from groin to chest. I watched because the intestines bubbled out to land over his face. All of the our bodies have been being stripped then ripped. An enormous sergeant down in entrance of me was executed like that, after which I noticed a Zulu slash at his face to take away his beard. I used to be scared however decided that I might slightly kill myself. I pulled out my spare ammunition. 16 rounds I lined up on the rock. 15 for them one for me.
The odor rose up the mountain gagging, creeping into my flesh, the occasional screams informed me that the wounded have been being dispatched. The sky dulled, smoke and the odor of black powder coated the bottom under me. One man was dragged out of a wagon screaming for mercy, it made no distinction in any respect they nonetheless gutted him like a fish and watched him wriggling on the ground desperately making an attempt to carry his insides in place. Have been’nt no good although they received bored shortly and spiked him together with his personal bayonet via the mouth and into the bottom.
The noise has gone; the solar appears to be a bit brighter because the mud and smoke clears. Zulus are all over the place ransacking the wagons and tents or simply sitting exhausted. Distant within the distance down the slope in the direction of the river I can nonetheless hear a number of rounds being fired of and method away on a far hill I can see a few horsemen driving for his or her lives, one is carrying a kind of pole.
The afternoon wears on, then I hear a shout and searching throughout to the small hill on the opposite aspect of the flat, there’s a soldier operating, he turns and fires and is nearly immediately engulfed in howling black our bodies. The screams tear by way of my sole as he’s ripped aside. The tears roll down my cheeks and I shout with rage.
They’ve heard and seen me now and are coming, oh God their coming……………..
Devoted to the courageous males of: the first Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 24th Regiment of Foot
and the Colonial forces that died with them on the sector of iSandlwana.
Wednesday the 22nd January 1879